TAIPEI, July 11 (Reuters) – Taiwan chipmaker TSMC (2330.TW) said on Sunday that it was in the middle of the contract signing process to buy COVID-1
The Taiwanese government has been trying for months to buy the vaccine directly from BioNTech and has accused China, which claims the autonomous island is its own territory, of having reached an agreement that the two sides were to sign earlier this year. China denies the allegations.
Last month, under public pressure over the slow pace of Taiwan’s inoculation program, the government agreed to allow Terry Gou, the billionaire founder of Taiwan’s Foxconn (2317.TW), and the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) to negotiate on its behalf for the vaccines. , which would be donated to the Taiwanese government for distribution.
“There are several parties. We are in the middle of the contract signing process. We will publish announcements when the process is complete,” TSMC said in a brief email statement without elaborating.
BioNTech and Fosun did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Gou’s spokesman said: “When there is further news, we will formally explain it to the outside world”. She gave no details.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang would only say that talks on the vaccine were underway.
“Once there is a clear result, we naturally report it to everyone.”
One source, who was briefed on the matter, told Reuters that the contract negotiations were not yet 100% complete, while another source said that while they were close to finalizing the deal, there was still uncertainty.
“It has become increasingly clear that it is not the Taiwanese side that is complicating the signing of the contract,” said the other source, citing additional “obstacles” created by Beijing.
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office did not respond to calls seeking comment outside of opening hours on Sunday.
Gou and TSMC reached an initial agreement this month with a subsidiary of Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co Ltd (600196.SS), which has a contract with BioNTech to sell the COVID-19 vaccines in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, says sources Reuters previously. Read more
Both Gou and TSMC are seeking 5 million doses each.
The BioNTech vaccine drama has transfixed Taiwan and dominated headlines. A major Taiwanese Buddhist group, the Tzu Chi Foundation, is also trying to buy the shots, which were developed with Pfizer (PFE.N). Read more
The Chinese government has repeatedly said that if Taiwan wants the vaccine, it must respect commercial rules and do so through Fosun.
The German government has also been involved, saying it has helped in the direct talks between Taiwan and BioNTech.
Taiwan has millions of vaccines on order, mainly from AstraZeneca Plc (AZN.L) and Moderna Inc (MRNA.O), while the US and Japan together have donated nearly five million doses to the island to help speed up vaccinations.
About one-tenth of Taiwan’s 23.5 million people have received at least one of the two-shot regime, although Taiwan’s own relatively small domestic coronavirus outbreak is now largely under control.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting from Yimou Lee and Taipei Newsroom and Andrew Galbraith in Shanghai; Editing Lincoln Feast.
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